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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

EC orders repoll in Manipur: Directive follows violence that marred Day 1 of Lok Sabha polls

The fresh polling is scheduled to take place on Monday

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 21.04.24, 05:26 AM
A broken EVM at a polling booth after incidents of violence during the first phase ofLok Sabha polls in Manipur’s West Imphal on Friday, and (right) a Congress candidate and security personnel get into a spat in Keirao during polling.

A broken EVM at a polling booth after incidents of violence during the first phase ofLok Sabha polls in Manipur’s West Imphal on Friday, and (right) a Congress candidate and security personnel get into a spat in Keirao during polling. PTI pictures

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday issued a directive for repolling to be conducted in 11 polling stations within the Inner Manipur parliamentary constituency.

The fresh polling is scheduled to take place on Monday.

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Polling was marred by mob violence and other untoward incidents in these polling stations on Friday.

The polling stations fall under Khurai (2), Kshetrigao (4) and Thonhju under Imphal East district and Uripok (3) and Konthoujam (1) in Imphal West district, the Manipur chief electoral officer said in a statement on Saturday night.

The ECI has declared the polling held under the affected polling stations on Friday as void under Sections 58(2) and 58 (A) 2 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Earlier, the office of the chief electoral officer (CEO) in Manipur had recommended to the EC to hold fresh polls in a few polling stations under the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency.

The recommendation was made because of “mob violence” leading to the disruption and destruction of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during polling on Friday.

The CEO’s office had late Friday forwarded a report to ECI secretary Madhusudan Gupta received from the returning officer of the constituency Th. Kirankumar.

It said polling under the six stations was “vitiated to such an extent that the result of the poll there cannot be ascertained for reasons indicated against each polling station”.

According to the report, polling at 3/11 Moirangkampu Sajeb Upper Primary School was “vitiated" because of “mob violence”, while at 5/31 Khongman Zone (V) it was hampered “due to riots”. The reasons or who made up the mob were not elaborated. Both the stations are located in Imphal East district.

Similarly, polling was disrupted at three stations (10/1, 10/6 and 10/7) located within the Irosemba Upper Primary School in Imphal West district because of mob violence.

”A mob had overpowered the security personnel and destroyed the EVMs during the polling in 10/6 and 10/7 stations” leading to a breach of law and order.

The public had destroyed the control unit, ballot unit and VVPAT in both polling stations — which affected polling in 10/1 located in the same school.

At 18/22 Khaidem polling station in Imphal West district, a group of “unidentified persons forcefully cast around 61 votes” leading to a “huge mob violence in and around the area”.

The incident stalled polling, which could not be resumed. However, the voting machines were saved.

The returning officer had reported the matter to the CEO under sub-section (1) of Section 58 of the representation of the People Act, 1951, seeking direction under sub-section (2) of the said section.

Section 58 deals with fresh polling in case of the destruction of ballot boxes and booth capturing, among others.

Reports from Imphal said there were incidents of vandalism, intimidation of voters and agents and booth-capturing by unidentified criminals. People have resisted the move by venting their anger by destroying the EVMs, sources said.

Altogether six candidates are vying for the Inner Manipur seat, but the contest is likely to be between the Congress’ Angomcha Bimol Akoijam (backed by the INDIA bloc) and state cabinet minister Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh of the BJP.

The Congress has sought repolling in 47 polling stations under Inner Manipur and 15 under Outer Manipur, according to a Left member of the INDIA bloc which held a meeting on Saturday to review the election scene.

“It was decided that a Congress delegation would move the ECI in Delhi to increase the number of repolling centres. Criminals backed by the ruling BJP tried to rig the polls,” he alleged.

The BJP also condemned the untoward incidents, accusing the Congress of violating the electoral laws.

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